03 Mar The 5 Why Technique
In one of the segments during our last Startup Bootcamp, we used the 5 Why Analysis to break down the core business idea and connect it to the market and customer. This simple yet powerful technique applies to most business ideas – across categories.
Here’s how it works.
The Milk is Spoiled
Let’s say the issue we’re investigating is the fact the milk in the refrigerator has spoiled… a simple example that most people have experienced.
So, the 5 Why technique might go like this.
1. Why did the milk spoil?
It was left in the fridge for too long.
2. Why was it left in the fridge for too long?
We didn’t drink it fast enough.
3. Why didn’t we drink it fast enough?
We had more milk cartons than we needed.
4. Why did we have more milk cartons than we needed?
We bought more milk cartons than we needed the last time we went shopping.
5. Why did we buy more milk cartons than we needed the last time we went shopping?
There was a sale on milk and we tried to save money.
Add on the ‘So’
Once you are done with your 5 Why, the next important, yet often left out, step, we must add the word “so” at the end of each response while then working back to the top to make sure it all makes sense. Let’s see how this works with our example.
There was a sale on milk and we tried to save money…
We bought more milk cartons than we needed the last time we went shopping…
We had more milk cartons than we needed…
We didn’t drink it fast enough…
It was left in the fridge for too long…
The milk spoiled.
See how it work?
While this may seem like a simple exercise, there will be times when the “cause and effect” relationship of your 5 Why makes no sense after adding the word “so” to the end of the statement and working backwards.
When this is the case, making the necessary adjustments will make your 5 Why Analysis far more accurate and powerful.